Dinner With New Mothers
Thursday night was about breastfeeding. About sitting with six women in their thirty-somethings and hearing about newborns, bedrest, thwarted creative endeavors, stepchildren, and pre-school interviews.
It was a baby brought along, to sleep in the corner, and could I "just check to see if he's breathing once and awhile?" It was about thinking, "Oh? Is that all?" but saying, "Ummm...ok," while wishing, "I hope they order another cheese plate."
Still it was also about a distant view of a place I'm headed--somewhere a long way off, but with a beautiful, intimidating, important skyline. It was about the beginnings of a roadmap. About hearing the details for the first time and being able to see myself in them, one day. Not now. But not never.
Thursday was also about sharing. Women sharing: the kind where we started off strangers and ended up confessing: "Swallow. Doggie-style," and "In the parking lot of a church once." Where I got to eavesdrop on Sunday morning conversations with husbands I'll never meet. Where I heard about paintings I'll never see, screenplays that won't get written (But should! But should!). I jotted down the names of movies or books or museums or towns ("I'll definitely have to pick that up/stop in sometime/plan a trip there--maybe in March?"). And meaning to--really meaning to--but losing the napkin, misplacing the paper, feeling the contagious excitement buzz out of me the minute I turned to the next woman (this one on my left) and began with her: "Oh, my boyfriend does that too...".
The lovely diners revealed and revealed: fears and misconceptions, confessions, secrets, memories, arguements and ambitions. I chewed up the most intimate flavors of their lives, but lost their names in the bottom of my third glass of wine.
On Thursday, with my mouth full of the conversations around me, I sipped and sat back and observed. How each woman brought to the room her own unique energy. Something so tangible, it seemed she carried it with her. Opened it up. Set it down like a pocket book on the table or a coat over the back of a chair.
One woman had just had a baby five weeks before. She was newly wise, exhausted but peaceful. Another, my friend--an actress--was hands-in-her-lap and learning, just like me. She glowed as she always does, looking as though she had swallowed a star. Another woman, a brunette, a writer--the not-so-sucessful kind--overshared from the beginning, sloshing up the conversation with awkward boulders (health concerns, loneliness, envy) as soon as she sat down. This when all the other women present had only just started skipping their stones (How are you? How is Daniel?). I cut the brunette woman's obnoxious confessions into thin slices, eating them carefully to remind myself: Don't be like her..
But as for them? The others who were seated there, passing their lives around the table along with steaming plates and bottles of wine? I would like to be like them someday. A few years from now, when my smile-lines are deeper from the years of smiling I have coming. I would like to be strong like them, soft like them. Loud with my laugh. Many-handed with purses and strollers and diaper bags and umbrellas. An easy teller of stories. An easy listener. A star-swallower. A keeper of children, not secrets.